The iconic jazz musician, film composer, and producer, Quincy Jones, is turning the big 90 today!
His career is absolutely legendary, spanning nearly 70 years with 80 Grammy nominations, winning 28 of them – being the second-highest Grammy winner of all time – and an Oscar away from being an EGOT member, although he did win an Academy Honorary Award in 1994.
He’s worked with some of the most influential musicians throughout his career, including Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Jackson, the latter whom he helped produce for record-breaking albums like Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad.
But besides his career, he has had a strong sense of family his entire life. Born in Chicago in 1933, Jones grew up with a schizophrenic mother, Sara Frances Wells, whose struggles were shown in Netflix’s 2018 documentary, Quincy, which was co-directed by Quincy’s daughter, Rashida Jones.
Quincy detailed a story of his mother being dragged away in a straitjacket, and would sometimes escape the psychiatric hospital she would stay in and break into their home. Quincy admitted her feared his mother growing up, but she still played an essential role as a mother in Quincy’s career.
Sara died in 1999 from a stroke, and in her obituary, several people talked about the kind of person she was before her passing, noting her dedication to her faith and, most importantly, her impact on her children.
“She had a sense of humor, she could laugh, but she was just a very religious person,” Quincy’s daughter, Jolie said of Sara. “I wouldn’t say she was quiet. She had some very strong opinions and she expressed them.”
“She played the piano a little, and she sewed clothes for all of us,” Jolie added. “But what her sons got from her the most was strength of spirit. She had a very strong spirit.”
Quincy eventually had a big blended family of his own, having seven children – six daughters and one son – with five different women. Although a circumstance like this often ends up in high tension and burnt bridges, Quincy’s daughter, actress Rashida Jones, disagrees and says everything he does for the people in his life “comes from a place of love.”
“My parents are so close, and that really makes it easier, because it all comes from a place of love,” she told EW when discussing working with both her father and mother, Peggy Lipton, on the Quincy documentary. “My mom is so empathetic towards my dad, but it also was incredibly raw for her to go through what she went through and admit that the relationship didn’t work out.
“But because they still know and love each other, I think that really helped,” she continued. “The thing about my dad’s life is the people that he’s touched, even when things don’t work out and people are hurt, he does seem to keep those people orbiting around. Like, our Thanksgiving dinners are still the ex-wives and the ex-girlfriends. For the most part, everybody’s kept the peace, because he keeps it about love, you know?”
While making the documentary, Rashida learned even more about the role music and family plays in her father’s life.
“This pattern that he has where he works himself into a tizzy, and then he has some sort of health crisis where he realizes he can’t do it anymore, and then he kind of returns to family and the things that are important. I don’t think I realized how many times he’s done that,” she explained. “I would say the only other thing is his need to survive through music. And I don’t think I really appreciated how important it was for him, and how difficult it must’ve been to leave that behind and run and continue to have forward motion in order to survive. He chose love to survive, and I don’t think that really occurred to me until I fully started piecing the movie together.”
Quincy has made it clear that his kids are most important in his life, saying at the 2010 “I Create Music” expo that “being a good parent” is his number 1 job, despite having worked with “every major artist of the 20th century.”
A very happy 90th birthday to the legendary trumpeter and wishes of good health.